Skeptics like to say that the real Israeli election only begins after the votes are counted, because the electoral system makes it practically impossible for any single party to gain a majority. This week’s election confirms that pattern.
As expected, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as the leader of the largest party. However, the reduced plurality of his Likud Party (which merged with Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Is Our Home) will further complicate the task of assembling a majority that can satisfy the policy preferences and personal ambitions of both his partner parties and his own base.
But whatever coalition is ultimately patched together, one thing is already clear: Israelis’ preoccupations have shifted and, perhaps in an unconscious echo of Barack Obama’s declared priorities for America, they want their leaders to focus on “nation-building at home.”
So to the question that most non-Israelis are asking — “What do the elections mean for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?” — the answer is, “Not much.”
Despite relatively impressive macroeconomic performance, Israelis have been increasingly incensed by such issues as the unequal distribution of the benefits and burdens of growth, “sweetheart” wage agreements in some sectors of the public service, overcrowded hospitals, and unaffordable housing, especially for young people.… Seguir leyendo »